You’re not just an agent; you’re a business ownerArticle added by Paul Mallett on November 12, 2013
Joined: September 27, 2012
Ranked: #19 (2,363 pts)
In case no one has told you, you’re not just an insurance agent. You’re a business owner.
That means that not only are you a trusted advisor to your clients — helping them to achieve their financial dreams — but you are also a critical part of the backbone of our nation’s economy. Entrepreneurship is as American as apple pie, and you are in it up to your neck. God bless you for that.
If that thought makes you a little nervous, don’t be. You don’t have to have an MBA to be a successful entrepreneur. Some of the
wealthiest and most successful business leaders in history never even finished college. However, most successful business leaders today do have at least some formal business training, and you can dramatically increase your chances of replicating their success if you condition yourself to think more like them.
Have a strategy
First and foremost, you need a plan. Your plan can and should change over time; but you have to know where you're headed if you are to have any chance of getting there.
Start by establishing your market niche. What’s going to separate you from the rest of the pack? Set a few big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs), and create a list of action items to help you accomplish them.
Watch your pennies
Not all cash outlays are created equal. Some are simply expenses, but some are investments in the future of your business. Learn to recognize the difference. Keep a tight lid on expenses, especially when starting out. I have seen countless examples of new agents running out of cash too soon because they didn’t count their pennies until it was too late. Things like tools, training and marketing your business are investments. Focus on the return or payback period with these types of expenditures.
Learn to love the 3 Ps
More than anything else, persistence, patience and passion are key to success in business. If you’re in it to get rich quick, you’re probably in the wrong business. Work your plan, think long-term, and focus on an area of expertise that you find challenging and fulfilling. If you do those things, you will never work another day for the rest of your life.
Focus on serving, not selling
This is much easier said than done, but it is critical. This is a service business, and now more than ever, people are looking for someone to trust. Keep your promises, know your stuff and empower your clients to be smarter consumers. You’ll close more business and you’ll sleep better at night. It’s one of the fascinating paradoxes of life: If you want to receive more for yourself, give more of yourself.
Leverage all available assets
If your agency or marketing organization provides low or no-cost business services of any kind, take advantage of it. Much like the
employer match of a 401(k), it’s free money. If they don’t provide such services, find someone who does. Ask about it. Unfortunately, in some cases if you don’t ask, you won’t get it. You may be missing out on affordable assistance with sales, marketing, agency building, tax planning and more.
Become a marketing superstar
Most new business owners severely underestimate the amount of time and energy they will devote to marketing and prospecting. That includes independent insurance agents.
Marketing is critical. Even if you eventually outsource those services or hire someone to handle them for you, soak up everything you can from whomever you can. Weak or ineffective marketing can kill even the strongest new business opportunities.
Define and document your sales process
I can hear you groaning already, but this doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds. Pay attention to what works for you, and what doesn’t. Create a simple outline or checklist of the things you do from first contact to close, and get it down on paper. When you come up with something new that works better, update your process. The key is find what works and make it repeatable.
It has been said that insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. In my opinion, it’s even crazier to discover a process that works and not repeat it over and over. It will also be extremely helpful when the time comes to train someone else.
Establish a personal board of directors
If you want to be successful and fulfilled in life, surround yourself with positive and successful people. Look for networking opportunities where you can meet new people that can help you succeed. I’m not suggesting you become a leech. The best relationships are two-way streets. Align yourself with bright, positive, successful professionals in complementary businesses that could benefit from what you have to share as well. Four or five key mentors that you can trust and respect are worth their weight in gold. Encourage them to be brutally honest with you and they’ll provide you with great ideas, and help you keep your head screwed on straight.
Plan. Do. Check. Adjust.
I confess, this is the engineer in me sneaking out, but this process works worldwide in manufacturing, and it will work for service-oriented businesses as well. If your business is not growing and improving, it’s probably dying. You just don’t realize it yet. Create your personal business plan, execute it, monitor the results religiously and adjust your plan as needed. Rinse and repeat forever. Rarely does success happen by chance. It happens when a good value proposition meets up with a good marketing message, as well as discipline and devotion to continuous improvement.
If you have other ideas, or would like further clarification of any of my suggestions, comment below or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.
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